Women's Basketball Moves on to NJAC Semifinals

Box Score

Montclair, NJ (2/20/10) – Sophomore guard Jaime Ericson (Flemington, NJ / Hunterdon Central) connected for a season-high 28 points along with 13 rebounds for a double-double as Montclair State fought back several attempts by Richard Stockton in the second half for an 80-70 victory in the opening round of the 2010 New Jersey Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament at the Panzer Athletic Center on Saturday.

Junior forward Kisandra Ayanbeku (Brockton, MA / Randolph) added 15 points and eight rebounds as the Red Hawks (16-9) advance to the semifinals where they will face No. 2 ranked Kean University (24-1) on Tuesday, February 23 at the Harwood Arena in Union. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm. The two met earlier this season with the Cougars picking up an 83-51 win at Montclair.

Sophomore guard Aliyah Nelson (Pleasantville, NJ / St. Joseph) had 14 points, four assists and five steals for the Ospreys, who had their two-game winning streak snapped and fell to 13-13 on the year. It was the second time this season that Stockton fell to MSU as it dropped a 64-60 decision in Pomona back on January 9. Stockton will be among the teams considered for the ECAC Division III Metro Tournament which gets underway on Wednesday, March 3 with the selections announced on Monday, March 1.

MSU never trailed in the game and led for all but 19 seconds in the contest as it connected on 9-of-its-first-11 from the field and built a 12-point lead. A three-pointer by Ericson, who had 18 in the opening period, gave Montclair the lead at 5-2 in the first minute and she later added another as the Red Hawks built a 22-10 lead with 12:35 left in the first half.

Stockton would trim the lead back seven points, 33-26 with 3:25 to go on a three by Nelson however Montclair scored the next seven points as Taylor Jeffers (Franklin Township, NJ / Franklin) and Jackie Berry (Tuckerton, NJ / Pinelands Regional) each added baskets before Catherine Cristino (Farmingdale, NJ / Colts Neck) added the final three points as MSU took a 40-30 lead into the locker room.

Montclair State would maintain that lead through the first five minutes of the second half before Stockton made a run to get within three points. Noelle Hogan (Mullica Hill, NJ / Clearview) scored on a layup to make the score 52-44 and Nelson’s three made it a five-point deficit before Oliver’s layup brought Stockton within 52-49 with 12:08 to go. Cristino stemmed the run with two free throws but Julia Fagan’s (New Britain, CT / New Britain) layup again made it a three-point game at 54-51.

Ericson answered with consecutive three-pointers and a third from Ayanbeku with 9:42 left pushed MSU’s lead back 63-52. Stockton would not go away and used an 8-3 run to get within 64-60 on a Fagan layup with 6:15 remaining. Ericson came up big again with a short jumper from the left side on the next possession and added another with 4:23 left as Montclair led 71-62.  Stockton would only get as close as six points the rest of the way.

Jamilee Pflug (Clark, NJ / Arthur L. Johnson) finished with 11 points for Montclair State while Berry added seven points, six rebounds and a game-high 11 of MSU’s 20 assists in the game. Cristino contributed nine points and seven rebounds. Ericson added two steals as she finished one-point shy of her career-high set against Wesleyan in 2009.

Oliver posted a double-double of her own with 10 points and 15 rebounds with Che’Na Thompson (Salem, NJ / Salem) collecting 12 points and seven rebounds. Fagan and Aspen Price-Ferry (Lindenwold, NJ / Lindenwold) had 11 and 10 points respectively as the Ospreys put five players in double figures.